More horror stories should be set on tropical islands. There is nothing quite like scaring yourself witless while gazing at sunny beaches and lush palm fronds. The juxtaposition unnerves - and that's exactly what horror is supposed to do.
Locating horror stories on islands also has a thematic purpose. Good horror forces us to travel to a place we don't want to go to. It pushes us there, removing our options. On an island there is no way to escape.
But setting and theme do not a Hitchcockian experience make. Good horror also needs suspense, drama, intrigue, and a little bit of violence. Deep Silver's Dead Island: Riptide has a good whack at putting on a show, but despite its setting, despite its place, and despite its new content, it still leaves you feeling like you've played this game before.
Many times over.
The story begins right where Dead Island left off. Your fabulous four have managed to fight their way through hordes of infected beachgoers and have finally made it off the island. After being intercepted by a military patrol boat, they think they are home safe and sound. They aren't. Quelle horreur.
On that boat is a cliched villain who foreshadows that he is the reason people are transforming from bovine bathers into brutal flesh gobblers. Before you can exclaim "this sounds awfully like Resident Evil with a suntan" you are locked in the brig, a wild storm appears, and the boat crashes into another island. That's also filled with zombies that you need to escape from. Again. Quelle horreur. Again.
This lack of innovation is unfortunate, because there are parts of Riptide that are genuinely enjoyable. As an RPG experience, it has enough depth to keep you entertained. For those with the patience - and the inclination - there are many hidden gems, quests, and experiences to play through. This is supplemented by a decent item and skill tree system that gives you real ownership of your characters. And there is the ability for you to call in friends to play the game co-operatively over the net (which is the only way to play survival horror games).
If you're an avid collector of zombie games, and you had the best time of your life playing Dead Island, you are probably going to want to give Riptide a decent play through. If you enjoyed it before, odds are you will enjoy it the second time, too. But if, like me, you found the first title lacked soul, Dead Island 2.0 is not the Lazarus you are looking for.
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC